From 497 AD to 1793 French monarchs ruled in an unbroken chain.
By ~1500, Francois I emerged as le grand roi Francois – the epitome of a French King and a Renaissance Man
He rebuilt Paris, centralized the government, came up with the “royal we,” and every time he ordered something done he declared “For such is our pleasure!”
Louis XIV – The Sun King
King of Kings, epitome of an absolute monarch.
Ruled for 70 years (1643-1715), making France the political and cultural heartbeat of Europe.
Total Renaissance man (even though this was post-Renaissance)
Charming, played the guitar, loved art, loved dancing, and listened closely to his subjects.
Was an absolute monarch - “L’etat, c’est moi!” (The state, that’s me!)
1682 - Louis XIV moved his court 12 miles outside of Paris to Versailles.
Other Versailles Kings
3 Kings lived at Versailles:
A kid when he was crowned
Relied heavily on advisors.
Partied at Versailles, spending money on the wars abroad
“ Apres moi – le deluge!”
(After me, the flood!)
A shy bookworm
Clung to the rules of the old regime
While the peasants groaned and worked, Louis XVI and his bride, Marie Antoinette retreated to the idyllic retreats of Versailles
18 th Century France
Everyone of importance spoke French
Set the tone for fashion and manners
Other kings mimicked Versailles/the Hall of Mirrors
There was one rival family…
A family who dominated Austria, most of Germany, and northern Italy since the Middle Ages
Married kids off to other ruling families to gain power
Staunch Catholics = led the Counter-Reformation and attacked Muslims
Vienna (in Austria) flourished (“The Paris of the East”)
German as the official language
Maria Theresa (r. 1740-1765) taxed the church and nobility, provided 6 years of obligatory education to all children and free health care to all in her realm.
Married her daughter off to Louis XVI
Vienna : Music :: Athens : Sculpture
Maria Theresa welcomed Mozart into her court
Hayden worked with Mozart who rivaled Salieri who gave lessons to Beethoven
The Hapsburgs encouraged music, studying it themselves
(Even today it’s a city of music – just dial 1509 when you get there!)
The Old Regime and the New Reality
July 4, 1776 = ?
The Age of Enlightenment’s ideas at work
Constitution based on democracy, freedom of religion, and protection of individual rights
In Europe, the aristocrats continued their lives of luxury, oblivious to the world around them.
Peasants’ lives unchanged since Dark Ages
Growing middle class, as wealthy and educated as the nobles, want more power
Power was still decided by birth, not ability or wealth
Two percent of France owned 1/3 of the land and paid no taxes.
The middle class (bourgeoisie) were rich, educated, ambitious, but had no say in the government.
Louis XVI called for an Assembly to raise funds (having overspent in funding the war in America)
The peasants and the middle class split and formed their own National Assembly and pledged to stick together until a new constitution is written.
Louis XVI ordered them to dissolve,
They said, “ Non! ”
The king sent in 25,000 troops
The masses felt betrayed
= Libert é , Egalit é , Fraternit é !
(Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood!)
On a hot, muggy July 14, 1789, a mob of Parisians gathered outside the Bastille, a prison.
They stormed the Bastille, the soldiers showed up…
… and fought on the side of the peasants!
The crowd then arrested the mayor, tore him apart, and carried his head on a stick through the city.
The Bastille’s violence spread
Peasants fought their masters and burned feudal documents. Serfdom’s destroyed!
In Paris, the price of bread skyrocketed because of bad harvests.
A (probably false) rumor spread that Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake!” (the burnt crusts peeled off the oven rails)
Enraged and hungry, 6,000 Parisian women and armed men marched to Versailles.
A small band infiltrated the palace Oct. 5, 1789. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were cornered and arrested.
On Jan. 21, 1793 Louis XVI was led to the Palace de la Concorde and beheaded. Marie Antoinette followed suit later that year as the crowd cheered “Vive la nation!”
Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People , 1830
The Reign of Terror
The Revolution snowballed out of control
Wave after wave of people were sent to Madame Guillotine
Whichever political party was in control would accuse its enemies of insufficient patriotism and have them executed.
Ironically, even Maximilien de Robespierre, the ranting and raving head of the Revolution who sent so many to their bloody ends, also lost his head
The Royals were terrified, and the middle classes and peasants drooled with delight as the French created the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
To protect themselves, they attacked France
The French Revolutionaries banded together and the new republic was solidified
A new anthem was written, La Marseillaise
They also got a new leader…
Born Italian, attended military school in Paris
Actually of average height, well-read, charming, and classic looks
Cared little for expensive palaces, fancy clothes, or good food
He was egotistical, power-hungry, and believed he was born to rule others
Jacques-Louis David, “ Le Premier Consul franchissant les Alpes au col du Grand-Saint-Bernard “ 1800
Once in power (at age 30!), he preached revolution and democracy.
Church lands were confiscated and privileged classes abolished.
He suspended civil liberties and ruled as a dictator.
He was strong, daring, and charismatic in leading the troops.
The French Army had grown strong during the Revolution and had no trouble conquering Europe.
= Napoleonic Empire with Paris as the “new Rome”.
Pompous Tyrant? Or Brilliant Hero?
Jacques-Louis David, The Coronation of Napoleon , 1807 In 1804, with Europe at his feet, Napoleon staged an elaborate ceremony at Notre Dame and crowned Josephine as Empress and himself (35 years old, son of immigrants) as Emperor.
1812 – Russians retreated under Napoleon’s attacks, leaving no supplies in their wake.
That plus the winter = Napoleon’s defeat.
Of the 600,000 troops who set out, only 100,000 returned, frostbitten and haunted by the horrible invasion.
Don’t mess with Russia!
Europe ganged up on France (again)
The French people took the chance and toppled his government
He did come back from Elba and said, “Strike me down or follow me!”
= His final defeat in 1815, the Battle of Waterloo.
He was exiled to a remote island where he studied, wrote, played chess, and, saying his final word, “Josephine,” died.
Last of the Old Regime despots, first of the modern dictators.
After his defeat, the French kings came back into power (Louis XVIII), but they wore business suits and went to work every day like business men.
A new style - Neoclassicism
Baroque = the art of the Old Regime
A series of archeological discoveries (like Pompeii, found in 1748) + the revolution = art that was democratic, simple, and, of course, modeled after Greece and Rome
Baroque vs. Neoclassicism Francois Boucher, Madame de Pompadour , 1756 Jacques-Louis David, Portrait Madame Recamier , 1800
Straight-forward arches, columns, and cool colors replaced gaudy ornamentation
Paris and London were rebuilt with this style (the English call it “Georgian”)
= Buildings that look ancient, but are actually only 200 years old.
The Arc de Triomphe
Napoleon started its construction in 1809 to celebrate (what else?) a battle victory
Modeled after the Roman victory arches, but twice as big
Like the Romans, the French parade under it in victory. Today all parades in Paris start or end at the Arc de Triomphe
Neoclassical = Think Washington, DC
The founding of America was quite neoclassical
Greek democratic ideals + Roman architecture
White House, started 1792 Capitol Building, started 1793